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Bogart vs. Burberry: The beginning of a beautiful lawsuit

Humphrey Bogart

AP Photo

A studio publicity photo of actors Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from the 1943 classic film "Casablanca."

Of all the trench coats, in all the towns, in all the world, they had to promote mine.

The company controlling Humphrey Bogart's publicity rights is suing the British clothing company Burberry for using the actor's name and image without permission to promote a trench coat via social media.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Bogart LLC, alleges that Burberry Group PLC used the iconic Hollywood star's name and image for "the express purpose of commercially linking their Burberry brand and products to the persona and character of Humphrey Bogart in the minds of (Burberry's) potential and actual customers," notes an official release.

"This is such an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful action by Burberry," said Stephen Bogart, son of the Hollywood legend.  "Apparently they believe a shoe company can advertise the fact that Brad Pitt wore its brand while jogging down the street, or a beverage company can claim George Clooney drank its product in one of his movies – all without even asking, much less obtaining, the actors' permission. 

The legal complaint makes allegations of federal trademark infringement, misappropriation of the right of publicity, and unjust enrichment. Damages, unspecified, are sought, as well as a court order that would prevent Burberry from using Bogart's image or name in connection with their products without explicit permission.

Bogart, famous for legendary roles in "The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca," "High Sierra," "The Big Sleep" and "The African Queen," died in 1957 at 57-years-old.

 

Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner

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